The Marcos dictatorship tarnished traditional Filipiniana fashion — this designer is reviving it

At Toronto's Vinta Gallery, Caroline Mangosing is expressing her culture through barongs and ternos.

At Toronto's Vinta Gallery, Caroline Mangosing is expressing her culture through barongs and ternos

Vinta Gallery creative director Caroline Mangosing on why she's bringing back traditional barongs and ternos. 3:41

The term "Filipiniana" describes traditional dress from the culture of the Philippines. Its two main elements, the men's "barong" and the women's "terno," are, respectively, the shirt and dress that form the signature look of Filipiniana fashion.

The costume came to be associated with Ferdinand Marcos and his dictatorship in the Philippines from 1972-81 — this was the customary fashion of the family. And with the end of the regime came the fall of barongs and ternos from popular culture.

(CBC Arts)

Caroline Mangosing is the creative director of Vinta Gallery, and the clothing she designs in her hometown of Manila has everything to do with traditional dress. She's trying to bring ternos and their butterfly sleeves, and barongs with their hand embroidery, back into the mainstream. It's not the easiest thing to do, as Mangosing acknowledges that Filipiniana "became uncool." But with her new take on historical dress and Vinta's ability to bring tradition to new clients in Canada and the Philippines, Mangosing is making a move to honour her culture.

"What I'm trying to do is continue the craftsmanship of the hand embroidery and hand weaving and make it available to the rest of the world," she says. "I love that I was able to find a nice little niche in fashion. I feel like that's part of my family legacy."

(CBC Arts)

In this video shot in Manila, you'll meet Mangosing as she shops for materials at the Divisoria Market and works with her embroiderers in the studio on butterfly sleeves, pineapple fabric and tiny tiny stitches.

Follow Vinta Gallery here. And you can catch Mangosing and Vinta at their One Day Pop Up Shop at 187 Augusta in Toronto on November 11. 

Watch CBC Arts: Exhibitionists on Friday nights at 12:30am (1am NT) and Sundays at 3:30pm (4pm NT) on CBC Television.


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